Get well soon Gorka!
(Dear Producers : Please consider an Injury Porn segment involving Gethin and a sponge bath you’re welcome)
(Yes I know it was his teeth, and?)
Greg & Natalie : As you might expect, it was a very intense goodbye interview with Natalie & Greg, as we’re now reaching the stage when the eliminees have sat a little too long in the Strictly bubble to decompress immediately. This is of course nothing new with Natalie, who cries and gets intense *every year* and *every year* people think it’s because it’s her last year/she’s pregnant, but to see an Olympic medallist crack is always a little more difficult (/hilarious when it was Pendledrama). Key points were Natalie sending the mixed messages of thanking her husband and Greg’s wife for being supportive, all whilst repeatedly stroking Greg’s face (?) and Greg himself offering his support for the victory to his new best friend Judge Rinder (WHY DID WE NOT HAVE AT LEAST ONE FRIENDSHHIP VT MONTAGE FOR THESE TWO GUYS, YOU’RE SLACKING) but at the same time telling everyone to lay off Ed Balls “because he’s doing very well for someone of his age who’s not in great shape”. Mee-flipping-ow.
Backstage Gossip :
Danny Mac needs to tuck his labels in, the scruffpot
Judge Rinder & Oksana : I’m not sure if Judge Rinder is different off camera to how he is on, but not only am I now finding his interactions with Oksana hilarious (this week : Rinder saying very solemnly that Len is a great guru of dance and we all should respect him for noticing that Rinder went offbook with the choreography, immediately before Oksana says that choreography is a load of rubbish and everyone should just feel the joy of dance through them freely, neither of them acknowleging the other’s perspective at all) but I’m finding Zoe’s crashing need to be his best gossip friend whilst he glares at her sourly increasingly funny. In this case Zoe’s flustered giggly excitement over the prospect of RINDER GETTING RAUNCHY over his rumba whilst Rinder looked at her like an idiot, saying that actually it’s a very beautiful and tender story he’ll be telling actually Zoe. Poor Rinder. Why will no-one take him as seriously as he takes himself?
The Booth Of Truth : Today the Booth Of Truth spilled that Gorka and Karen are the biggest gluttons amongst the pros, although the distinction was made that Gorka eats right whilst Karen is constantly stuffing her face with garbage. Also Katya and Oti are the bossiest.
Ask The Pros : Natalie, Oksana and Aljaz were in the Tepid Seat for tonight’s interrogation, although Natalie was still clearly running on Joy Fumes from her time with Greg as she proclaimed EVERY TYPE OF DANCE to be her favourite dance ALL OF THEM, THEY’RE ALL AMOYZING. Aljaz also told us all how the pros manage to rehearse all the group dances and train with their celebs at the same time (they cram them all in in August and then remember them in short bursts as the series goes on), and all three pros revealed when they started dancing – Aljaz and Natalie at 3 (Aljaz to chase girls apparently) and Oksana at 6, as a vessel for her mother’s own thwarted dreams of dancing stardom. For someone who plays their cards very close to their chest generally on the show, Oksana managed to convey a LOT with that little sentence let me tell you. Also if she wasn’t a dancer she would be a vet, because she loves animals (Aljaz would be a runner).
Karen’s Khoreography Korner : Zoe introduced Karen as the “Grande Dame Of Dance” tonight, and came out alive, so that’s a win for all concerned. Karen here laid down the groundings for a story that ran through tonight’s show, and never really convinced – “Cloudia’s jive only had the one mistake and it was so minor it’s probable that nobody at home noticed it”. Mmm hmmm. Still, she was happily undermining the judges high scores elsewhere, pointing out where Ore lost frame in his American Smooth, and suggesting that Rinder’s salsa technique was pretty lacking. Only Louise and Danny really escaped unscathed, with both winning universal plaudits. Meanwhile Ed continued to be the victim of Karen’s distrust as she criticised him for lack of energy and looking lost in his jive. Somehow I don’t think Edballsmania has reached this particular korner just yet…
Melvin & Janette’s Cha Cha Chart Show : Yes this again. Tonight our first boots counted down the five dances most noted for their “faceography” in Strictly history. Apparently these were Mark Benton’s cha cha, Matt Baker’s jive, and then the salsas of Ainsley Harriott, Jade Wood, and Susanna Reid. Where was the Bunton Paso Face? Helen George – Slutty Nurse? Tom Chambers Perpectual Face Of Smuggins? Louis Smith’s Amazing Breakthrough Charleston Faces That Redefined Acting Forever? Vorderumba?! These people know nothing.
Tunes On Tuesday : Our revealed tunes? Cry Me A River for Cloudia’s Argentine Tango (Justin Timberlake, not Julie London, which is…less bad I guess?), Satisfaction for Ed’s Tango (The Rollings Stones, not Benny Benassi, which is…a disappointment I guess?) and Lean On Me for the Rindyrumba. I can’t wait to see Rinder acting out leaning on Oksana in tough times for warmth and friendship. I bet it’s like those monkeys in that experiment with the wire mesh mommies.
Something To Do With Make-Up I Dunno : Don’t look at me, there wasn’t even a theme. Mrs Ant put some make-up on Chloe’s face. *shrug*
Claudia & AJ : I have to say, kudos to AJ for having the chutzpah to try pulling off both “our mistakes were so minor, nobody at home noticed” and “people probably just thought we were safe” in the same interview. That’s a double reach if ever I saw one. Cloudia meanwhile seemed quite happy just to talk about how happy she was being chucked around by the backing dancers. She really did love those guys. We also, in discussion of the dance-off and their dance this week – the Argentine Tango – got to see Cloudia’s game face.
Scary isn’t it? These gymnasts, they don’t muck about.
Waite’s Wednesday Warm-Up : A birthday special It Takes Two today, as Zoe turned 46, and got her first present in the form of her very own video wand. Later on he got her a giant picture of himself with a little bit of her peeking in at the corner. He’s all heart. In terms of training footage Danny (samba) probably came out on top, as Ian all but predicted for sure another 40/40 for him, as he is swinging his hips about in a way Ian has never seen a male celebrity do before. And lord knows he’s tried. Cloudia also got plaudits for her Argentine Tango footage, with Ian comparing her to Flavia, queen of the AT, although he gave it with a healthy dollop of disdain for the hive she just did and which got 36 somehow. Everyone else got ambivalence – Louise keeps on looking at the floor in her waltz, Ore’s got a crooked back leg in his paso lunges, Rinder is still too exuberant and imprecise in latin and Ed…well Ed’s still Ed, and it’s still taking a lot of “…well it’s fromMonday” to get through his training footage. As well as the standards, Ian dished out his advice for the forthcoming Cha Cha Challenge – be better at cha cha than Zoe was. Touche.
Neil Goes Cossack
Louise & Kevin : The long and slow process of winkling Louise out of whatever shell Kevin imagines he’s getting her out of continues apace, although it’s a pretty slow pace, as she spoke timidly tonight about how stressful it is doing the waltz. THE WALTZ. If you’re at week 10 and the bloody waltz terrifies you, you probably need therapy greater than that Kevin Clifton : Life Coach can provide. Even Zoe telling her that she set the paso doble scoring record for the series (again, like Ore’s Viennese Waltz record, one that is likely to stand) didn’t seem to liven her up much. We also saw a brief montage of Kevin telling Louise that the story of all their dances is that she urgently wants to jump his bones, which to be honest didn’t seem to impress Louise that much in any instance it was laid out. You can tell the story he gave her last week in the paso – you repeatedly push me down the stairs – carried more resonance. That paso by the way? The HARDEST dance Kevin has ever laid out for any of his celebrities, and that’s definitely not something he says every other week by the way.
The Pro Challenge : IT’S BACK! After a 2015 sadly bereft of It Takes Two pro rivalry, it was announced today that the battle is very much back on, and the battlefield this year is jive kicks. At this point my money’s on AJ, Giovanni, or Kevin. Not Aljaz though, because he’s up first, and we all know the first one up never wins.
Let’s Get Fucked With Vicky Gill : This weekend Cloudia will be wearing a red dress
The Pro Challenge : We began with Aljaz, who seemed very much at peace with the fact that he’s not going to win, mostly because of all these new young pros coming in with their fresh legs, not like his old ham hocks (YOU’RE 26 ALJAZ KNOCK IT OFF), but was aiming to just put in a good enough performance to get past Janette. Which seems fair enough. He scored 52, making him, according to Zoe, both top and bottom. Of the leaderboard.
Pro Dance Rehearsals : This week’s pro dance involves them all running around with a bunch of schools sports day props and to be honest doesn’t even look much like a dance at this point. I was mostly distracted though by Chloe – Queen Of It Takes Two parading around in her best Ivy Park couture (she wears it well) so maybe stuff was going on that I didn’t notice. I do know that at some point on Sunday we will witness Pasha and Neil compete as to who has more mastery of their own sack, so I look forward to that bit at least.
The Booth Of Truth : Today the booth revealed that Pasha is the pro most in love with his phone, which feels pretty rich given that every other VT in Series 9 was him trying to crowbar Chelsee off hers. We also learnt that the grumpiest pros in the morning are Karen and Brenda, although Karen will have you believe that that’s only if she hasn’t eaten. As Ola Jordan found out one morning when she took a double helping of Honey Nut Loops AND THOUGHT KAREN WOULDN’T NOTICE.
Ore & Joanne : Let’s be honest, whilst Zoe spent most of the the interview talking about Blackpool, Ore’s birthday there, and welcoming him back to “The 10 Club” (it’s no Fanny Club) what was really interesting to us all over the course of this episode of It Takes Two was the slowly unfurling trainwreck of their paso doble on the horizon. Firstly there was the reveal of Joanne’s dress – some sort of bizarre powersuit-dress that looked mostly like someone decied to stage a version of Mary Poppins where she’s a butch lesbian. Then the revelation that the routine wll feature a table with props both ON TOP and UNDERNEATH. Then Joanne saying they weren’t really going to dance a paso because the music they’ve got (Lorde’s version of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”) is too slow. Then…the training footage. It’s going to be something for the ages, whatever happened. (Also Ore tried to do ironically crap smack-talk to AJ over the Cha Cha Challenge and it was a little awkward, mostly because not a single person alive gives a damn about the Cha Cha Challenge)
ABC : ABC were on and sang “Poison Arrow” and “Viva Love”. It was so much better than every other musical performance we’ve had so far that I feel like granting it eligibility for the end-of-series Monkies, but entirely abritrary rules is rules.
Gethin’s Homoerotic Backstage Adventures: To be honest, when the show this week began with this
shot of Ed Balls and Danny Mac, it feels ridiculous to talk about anything involving Gethin being stand-out homoerotic, but I can but try. The clear highlight of this week was a very contrite Rinder being very good and answering Gethin’s questions in full and politely, presumably because he got a little blowback from last week when he all but asked him to piss off and make the tea. Other than that Gethin also visited the Strictly CONTROL ROOM (although Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig) was nowhere in sight, and played an “either/or” game with Giovanni and Natalie that told us absolutely nothing, and which would have been more forgivable if this wasn’t an edited in segment. Possibly the most educational segment thought was when Karen stood right in front of Gethin with her leg up over Neil’s head and he didn’t register it. Just sayin’
The Friday Panel : A decent Friday Panel tonight, with only one “WHEN I DID STRICTLY” in sight, and even that was only a Christmas Special. Katy Brand, Dan Walker, and Miranda Hart (who used to merit a full intro section and interview slot to herself back in the day, oh how the fickle finger of fame flits) (thank God) all lined up to offer their opinions and touched on some familiar themes (Danny’s too good, it’s borin’ ; Louise doesn’t know how good she is ; Oh No A Man Has Got The Rumba ; I Literally Cannot Talk About Cloudia Without Comparing Her To A Child’s Toy) but at least did it in a charming way. Katy’s highlight was probably revealing to us all that her head is with Danny but her heart is with Balls (I feel this will be the storyline of the whole show for the next three weeks by the way, if not four) and Miranda’s was screeching “IT’S AN ENTERTAINMENT SHOW!” into the ether like a particular obnoxious messageboard poster after endorsing Ed Balls for the win. It was Dan who most voluble though, explaining to us all who was staying and going via a complex system of tests including one where he throws a tea-towel at the tv (I used to do that when Denise Van Outen was on, it never got rid of her though) and most shockingly of all, utterly snaking his BBC Breakfasst colleague Ore to endorse a Louise win. I’m sure he’ll never recover.
Danny & Oti : After throwing Ed Balls a towel and showing him were the showers are, Danny emerged from backstage with Oti to discuss the highs of getting a 40 at Blackpool with his nan in the audience. Zoe, lobbing Danny a nice easy home run, asked him if he felt he could take his foot off the pedal now that he got the first Craigy 10 of the series, like previous Strictly champions Matt Di Angelo, Rachel Stevens, Ali Bastian, Pamela Stephenson, Chelsee Healey, Kimberley Walsh and Kellie Bright (yes, that tango in the final was Craig’s first 10 last year, think on that). Danny of course said no he takes every week as it comes yadda yadda banality. This was at least more comfortable than the OUTRIGHT LIE told by Oti Mabuse when she said that she doesn’t go into every routine expecting to get 40. LIES. I haven’t heard such a LIE on this show since they pretended to Cloudia that her jive was any good. Their dance this week is a samba, which Oti is going to take back to its roots in the tribes of the Amazon. Well I can’t wait to see how Props’N’Wardrobe translate that into an entirely non-offensive staging set-up on Saturday night. For sure. Sadly, their training for the Cha Cha Challenge is going poorly, as Danny has taken it upon himself to try to lead Oti. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.
Ed & Katya : An underdog special today, as Zoe very solemnly told Ed how well he’d dealt with all the people yelling at him this week that he didn’t deserve to be there, the bastards. I of course remember a similar courtesy being extended to Anastacia after Danceoffgate (remember that?) or Peter after Jameliagate or…well you get my point. Ed was in fine fettle this evening regardless of the trauma of some egg on twitter telling him he’s well less sexy than that Greg Rutherford and should LEAVE NOW, thanking his public for saving him yet again, and set a new goal for himself to score 30 for a routine at some point. I remember when this was the sort of target that decent dancers set themselves, it has to be said. That was Carol Smillie’s Series 4 endgame target, and now it’s ED BALLS. Where have we found ourselves? Personally I’ve found myself represented by
this girl. My heroine. Their dance this week is the tango and there will be Jagger strutting and a male model theme and so on and so on.
Craig Visits Again : Another flying visit from Craig, one last time before he goes off to play Captain Hook in panto, and as a result grows that bloody beard again. Tonight he expressed mild regret that he’d given Danny a 10 for a dance that he’d detected errors in on rewatch, but it seems like he’ll manage to live with it. A general theme came out tonight of Craig “overmarking” – giving a 10 out earlier than he has for anyone before other than Ali Bastian, and not giving out a 1 all series (like Craig ever gives out 1s any more, I miss those heady days, maybe they will come back again), although Craig handwaved off these concerns fairly neatly. He also expressed an urge to dance a routine in the near future with either Jill Halfpenny or Gethin Jones. I’d run a poll as to which you’d all prefer to watch but…I’ve got a feeling I already know.
Pro Challenge : A case of poor preparation today, as Oti paced herself to do jive kicks for 15 seconds, only to find midway through the challenge that she’d have to go for a full 30. As such, her technique varied wildly, and numerous discounted kicks left her with a score of only 49, leaving her second to Aljaz. Ah well, there’s always next year…